Veggie Power

The back of Amsterdam Central Station has transformed into a serious food Mecca. Longing for quality éclairs, organic raspberry clafoutis or scallops? This station has it and much more. Check all the Asian stuff you can eat here, ranging from sushi and ramen dishes to pho, the Vietnamese national soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat, usually beef or chicken. I had a version with chicken broth, tofu and pak choi at the latest addition to CS: Sàigon Caphê. Glad I did, since I had a cold and needed something to give me energy. Of course nothing can beat a Javanese chicken soup for that purpose, but this pho chay really did a good job. I was ready to run up and down the platform stairs after eating it. But instead of doing that I checked the menu minutely. Making my mind up for my next visit. For sure I will order this pho again, together with skewers with grilled chicken and lemon grass and salad rolls with pork and shrimp. At this station waiting is a bless!

Sàigon Caphê
Pho chay, one portion, € 11.50
De Ruijterkade 44a, City Centre. Other branches: see website
+31 (0) 20 489 79 18
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday noon-11pm

Live and Let Fry

My Dutch-Indonesian mother thinks that all Asian dishes have to be made according to her recipe. The first time I bought her a portion of pad thai, she was amazed. ‘Crushed peanuts on top of fried noodles is a no-go. Lime? It’s a meal, not a cocktail.’ The fact that there are more ways to fry noodles than Melania Trump has dresses and that this was just the way this typical Thai dish should be made, didn’t seem to convince her. ‘It’s not correct. It should be made with meat or shrimp, garlic, soy sauce, spring onions and celery.’ Well mum, in this case I don’t think less is more. I just love the rich noodles of Thai restaurant/takeaway Mae Somjai. So good that the cooks combine shrimps, tofu, bean sprouts, greens, peanuts and lime. Have a seat in this pretty basic restaurant and see how the ladies ‘walk the wok’: quick, efficient and with great results. It reminded me of a small restaurant in Ko Lanta serving only one pad thai. While the mother was cooking, the youngest kid was sipping juice out of a coconut. Get the picture?

Mae Somjaj
Pad thai with shrimp, one, € 13.50
Koningsstraat 25, City Centre (Chinatown)
+31 (0) 6 51 17 50 49

The Sleeping Sausage

Thank god Vietnamese street food is hot. My three favourites items: shrimp paste on sugar cane, vermicelli noodle salad with fresh greens, roasted peanuts, cilantro, pork or beef and goi cuon, rice paper rolls. I recently had a very interesting version of these spring rolls at FRNZY, a happening place in De Pijp. These rolls are served with five-spice chicken, beef, grilled pork, tofu and shrimp, but I chose the ones with a grilled chicken sausage inclusive of black pepper. This beauty was sleeping like a baby on a soft bed of vermicelli noodles, fresh greens, carrots and pickled daikon. Best eaten with a bit of sweet-sour sauce. A touch of smokiness and a whole lot of freshness made up for a mental trip to one of the fabulous food markets in Asia. Copy my experience and finish your petit meal with the pandan waffle with fresh fruits, powdered sugar and condensed milk on top. Suitable for breakfast also.

FRNZY
Goi cuon with chicken sausage, one portion, €6.00
Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 27, South (De Pijp)
+31 (0) 6 20 91 08 98
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 11am-10pm

Fresh as a Bird

Time flies when you’re at the Hugo de Grootplein, especially when the sun is shining. Excellent terraces in abundance. Take it easy at Razmataz or Hugo’s and don’t you dare to rush to the Albert Heijn to collect stuff for tonight’s dinner. Just buy your meal at Kemang, the latest kid on the square. Kemang is the name of a district in Jakarta. It refers to the city where the family of one of the owners was born. The other owner, Khalid, is of Moroccan descent. The result of this multicultural fusion is an inviting takeaway where Khalid serves good food made by his wife’s Indonesian aunt. The smoor, a sweet beef stew, matches wonderfully with the stir-fried pak choi. In the mood for stir-fried greens (kousenband) with tofu and tempeh? Merge it with ajam pedis! Kemang’s spicy chicken thighs are genuinely spicy to some, but ‘friendly spicy’ to me – a Dutch Indonesian. Besides that it’s ultra fresh due to the djeroek poeroet, lemon leaves. Exotic food at a reasonable price served with a huge smile.

Kemang (website/FB under construction)
Ajam pedis, 100 g, €2.10
Hugo de Grootplein 2/A, West
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 4pm-9pm